Uber and Lyft drivers launch strike to protest pay and job security

Uber's hotly anticipated stock market launch is expected to be one of the biggest IPOs in history

In the United Kingdom, the Independent Workers Union said some Uber drivers are observing a nine-hour boycott. "Most of the things they're striking for, we already have in NY", says Brendan Sexton, executive director of the Independent Drivers Guild, a nonprofit that helped push for the minimum pay legislation in NY.

Simmering tensions between drivers and ride-hailing companies are flaring again, as drivers in major cities across the US and the United Kingdom threatened strikes on Wednesday over low wages and unstable working conditions.

Uber said it provides "full transparency" on rider fares and driver earnings on each trip, giving drivers the option to see their distance and mileage-based calculations within the app including trip-by-trip and total earnings.

Drivers in New York City are expected to protest by logging off ridehail apps for two hours on Wednesday morning, according to the New York Taxi Workers Alliance. According to Uber's IPO filing, reclassifying its drivers as employees "would require us to fundamentally change our business model, and consequently have an adverse effect on our business and financial condition".

Last October, hundreds of drivers went on strike in Mumbai and New Delhi, demanding higher fares to meet rising fuel costs.

The Boston Independent Drivers Guild is calling on drivers to gather outside an Uber office in Saugus to protest on Wednesday afternoon.

Uber now operates in 40 Indian cities and the country accounts for an estimated 11 percent of its global rides. That means it's more hard for Chicago-area drivers to pay for proper vehicle maintenance or make a living wage. Although New York drivers won a recent battle when the city enacted a law that mandates ride-hail companies pay them at least $17.22 an hour after expenses, organizers said the rates across the board are below a living wage.

An Uber representative said the company will continue to work with drivers to improve their experience. "This week, Pinterest, the digital pin board company that also is losing money, set a price range for its public offering that values it below that of its last private market peg". In some cities, like Los Angeles, drivers are being urged to keep the ride-sharing apps off all day.

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Both rideshare services released statements regarding drivers' wages.

Other cities are expected to join the protests in the coming hours.

Brendan Sexton, executive director of the union Independent Drivers Guild in NY, said: "Drivers built these billion dollar companies and it is just plain wrong that so many continue to be paid poverty wages while Silicon Valley investors get rich off their labour".

"We do see added risk from Uber aiming to take greater share of the fare from drivers and expect that the more Uber pushes here, the more drivers will fight back and protest, increasing the likelihood of regulations (particularly at the state level in the USA and in Europe) of minimum wage guarantees", Wedbush analyst Dan Ives wrote in a note.

"Oftentimes I get 80 percent ..." Both companies have stated that their businesses would be "adversely affected" if drivers were classified as employees instead of contractors. "There is a lot of hype around Uber and the gig economy".

The company and its critics are divided over how much drivers can make. "I stand with the Uber and Lyft drivers going on strike on May 8".

An Uber spokesperson declined to comment.

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